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5 Dec, 2008 13:37

Trading halts set to become fewer on Russian exchanges

Moscow's stock exchanges will halt trade from next month if shares fall more than 15% in an hour. The current cut-off is 10%. Russian finance officials have now asked the London Stock Exchange, to which frustrated investors have fled, to do the same.

Russian stock market bosses admit their system of stopping and starting bourses isn't working. It has failed to stop the markets falling further, and in turn has pushed investors to London. Top Russian firms are traded in both London and Moscow, which enjoyed the lion's share of trades as recently as August, according to Deputy CEO of the Micex Dr Gennady Margolit.

“Trade shares shifted rapidly to London. In August we had 70%, now we have just 45% to London's 55%. The good news is the markets regulator's prepared new laws. There'll be a far broader corridor before shares are halted – plus or minus 15% and they'll stop for an hour, and if 25% – for the day. We expect this by the start of next year.”

Sergey Kharlamov, Deputy Head of the Federal Financial Markets Service, says the regulator is now in talks with the LSE to halt ITS markets in line with Moscow.

“There's a blatant regulatory hole, which is leaking liquidity. Investors are losing out one way or the other. If shares of one company are traded on several stock exchanges, regulators must correlate their responses.”

The situation on Russia's benchmark RTS exchange is even worse. On Friday CEO Aleksey Salaschenko told Business RT fully seventy per cent of dual-listed Russian firm trades now choose London.

However, experts warn Russia's unlikely to force restrictions on the London stock exchange, whose soft-touch approach is a key attraction.